nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
March 7, 2007
Pay proper attention to its blurb: BabyLove is absolutely not for the warm and fuzzy, motherhood-is-a-solemn-crowing-glory crowd. It actually could be used as a sort of "scared straight" treatment for young girls of the type who babble on and on about wanting lots and lots of babies. This is a show to make one think twice, and possibly even three times, about the whole idea of getting pregnant, while keeping the laughter going throughout. A provocative piece of humor and great charm, this show unflinchingly presents the collision of motherhood and sexuality in one woman's experience. The resulting production has a darker view of maternity, replete with joys but refusing to sugar coat its impact.
Originally written as an essay for Nerve.com, BabyLove is here presented as a one woman show performed by its author, Christen Clifford. Although there are still some small hitches in the transition from page to stage, this production is engaging and very well done. Clifford takes us from trying to get pregnant through having a toddler, detailing the experience as it affects her body, her relationship to sex, and her physical relationship with her husband. It is this focus, delivered with great honesty, which prevents any sense of the show being a dutiful valentine to motherhood. It is also what makes BabyLove so unique, this unabashed fascination with how she has been sexually affected by it. As Clifford moves through the experience, she includes an impressive amount of information and revelation—at times verging on too much information (I am so grateful she thanks her husband in the program)—but she remains far too interesting in her candor to lose my attention.
Her comfort with the audience keeps a conversational sense going, even though the only spoken interaction is during the giveaway for new moms. This moment felt a bit disruptive when I saw the show; not in any significant way but it might be less obtrusive if placed at the start or finish of the piece. The show overall could handle a bit more shaping than it currently has, as there is occasionally a disjointed feeling about the material's flow. Marvelous moments have been created and they might be well served by having the movement and music more consistently placed throughout BabyLove to frame them. Clifford has a great physicality, she moves well and both the choreography (by Julie Atlas Muz) and music (design by Elizabeth Rhodes) strengthen the production immensely.
Like motherhood, BabyLove may not always be for the faint-of-heart, but is well worth your time.